Box office preview: ‘Scream VI’ keeps the March sequels rolling with ’65’ and ‘Champions’ making a stab at Top 5

March motors along with another sequel that’s likely going to dethrone last week’s #1 movie, “Creed III.” This one also uses Roman numerals, as Paramount releases “Scream VI,” the quickly greenlit sequel to last January’s hit horror-comedy, “Scream.” Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.

Once again directed by filmmaking collective Radio Silence (aka directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett), the sequel brings back newer characters played by Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Mason Gooding, and Jasmin Savoy Brown from the 2022 movie. Courtney Cox is also back, as is Hayden Panettiere from the much-maligned “Scream 4” (also, the lowest opening and grossing movie of the entire series). Noticeably missing is Neve Campbell, who had been in all five previous movies, but new cast members include Dermot Mulroney, Jack Champion (“Avatar: The Way of Water”), Tony Revolori (“Spider-Man: No Way Home”) and Liana Liberato (“A Million Little Things”).

The 2022 “Scream” opened with $30 million in a January when movie theaters were still facing troubles from the Omicron variant, although the audiences for these movies are generally younger, and young people may have felt more impervious to the virus than older adults.

SEE March 2023 box office preview

Probably one of the bigger selling points for the sixth slasher in the series is that the killings are leaving Woodsboro, California, and moving to the big city, New York City, something Paramount has been using to promote the movie with people dressed like Ghostface, the series’ infamous killer, showing up in prominent New York places. They did something similar for the 2022 horror hit “Smile,” and it helped get that movie some good early buzz.

Beyond that, Jenna Ortega has become a much bigger star in the last year, mostly from starring in Netflix’s hit series “Wednesday,” so she should more than make up for the lack of Neve Campbell, who left the franchise due to a pay dispute.

Reviews were released on Tuesday night, and they’re generally positive, currently 80% on Rotten Tomatoes with 54 reviews, at the time of this writing. Being released into over 3,700 theaters, it’s very likely “Scream VI” can surpass the $34.7 million opening record for the franchise, set by 2000’s “Scream 3.” It might even edge its way towards $38 to $40 million or even more, although it’s going to have a tough time against the next few sequels of March in terms of maintaining that business.

Adam Driver stars in the sci-fi thriller “65,” the new movie from “A Quiet Place” writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, this one being released by Sony into roughly 3,200 theaters on Friday. The high concept film has Driver playing an astronaut whose spaceship crash lands on earth … 65 million years ago. So you can definitely expect the promise of “Driver vs. dinosaurs” to get some moviegoers interested, maybe the older guys who aren’t as interested in “Scream VI.” (Or at least, that’s what Sony is hoping, because this movie could have been released any time this year.)

There will be no reviews for “65,” because Sony won’t be screening for critics until Thursday afternoon, presumably since the studio knows critics won’t be kind. Still, the trailers and marketing have done their bit, and this probably should be able to make between $9 and 12 million, based solely on its premise and that marketing, though it’s likely to be a one-week wonder with little legs.

SEE 2022 box office hits: Every movie that made more than $100 million

Bobby Farrelly of the infamous Farrelly Brothers, who had many low-brow comedy hits in the ’90s and ’00s, returns with his solo feature directorial debut, “Champions.” The comedy stars Woody Harrelson as a minor league basketball coach who loses his job and gets a DWI, which leads to him having to coach a Special Olympics basketball team as community service.

This is such an interesting release from Focus Features, who is giving this a very wide release into 3,000 theaters, because we have to face that it could be a tough subject to sell to general audiences. But it’s also a hugely crowdpleasing and funny movie, not that I expect film critics to appreciate it. (Actually, reviews, so far, are generally mixed to positive.)

Harrelson has been making the talk show rounds with a prominent hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live” a few weeks back, and he continues to be a generally well-liked actor-slash-celebrity with more prominent roles in movies like “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” in 2021 and last year’s Oscar-nominated Best Picture, “Triangle of Sadness.” He’s fully behind this movie as the person who found it and brought it to Farrelly, so he’s going to go all out to get people to check it out. Still, this looks like it’s more likely to make $4 to 6 million this weekend, enough to get into the top five, but its placement relying entirely on how badly “Ant-Man” and “Cocaine Bear” drop. (The latter has direct competition from the two new movies above, so that could get bumped from the top five this weekend.)

Opening in roughly 300 theaters this weekend is Shout! Studios’ “The Magic Flute,” an fantasy-adventure adaptation of the Mozart opera by Florian Sigl, executive produced by Roland Emmerich, with a cast that includes Jack Wolfe, F. Murray Abraham, Iwan Rheon and Asha Banks. It’ll probably end up outside the Top 10 with $200,000 or so.

Check back on Sunday to see how all the movies above fared.

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